Why Americans celebrate Thanksgiving
Popular Pilgrim mythology not withstanding, our first true Thanksgiving most likely took place in Charlestown, Mass., in 1676. The community’s governing council unanimously voted to declare June 29 as a day of thanksgiving to God.
President George Washington became the first chief executive to issue a Thanksgiving proclamation, but President Thomas Jefferson declined to follow suit. A champion of religious freedom, Jefferson believed the federal government could not have any involvement in religion whatsoever. Since Thanksgiving meant giving thanks to God, Jefferson declined requests to proclaim the holiday.
It was America’s bloodiest conflict that led to the establishment of Thanksgiving.